Years ago when I was doing a product page on fabric for Washington Spaces magazine, I had a deliriously fun time romping through the Washington Design Center, pulling fabrics from different showrooms, and then coming back to the office and throwing all the samples on a conference table and mixing them up until I found my perfect combinations.
I found myself playing house again with Madcap Cottage‘s John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon’s collections from Robert Allen for Calico Corners, after they were in DC this week to cut the ribbon on its new store in Alexandria. “We give you pieces that you can really layer and create,” Jason said.
John and Jason have designed three collections for Calico, and Jason and I chatted about their approach to color and pattern. “It’s all about timeless. If you can be on trend but never trendy, that’s a good thing.” As you can see in the above mix, he said botanicals, florals, chinoiserie, embroidery and ethnic patterns are of the moment right now, but they’re also timeless.
It’s all a matter of how you present the pattern, he explains. Take Chintz. in the 1980s, when Prince of Chintz Mario Buatta rose to fame, the florals were tightly grouped and the fabric itself had a crisp sheen to it. Now, Jason says, “there’s a little less polish, and the patterns are a little less dense. The cabbage rose is not quite as twee as it once was!”
Here’s how I would imagine some combinations in a fantasy sun room or breakfast room using their updated florals:
Jason said he’s seeing amped-up color combinations come to the fore (maybe that’s the influence of the old House Beautiful). “David Hicks was the harbinger of some of those trends in electric color—and that’s coming back, but in a different way.”
He’s also seeing yellow and green come back. That combination used to be rooted in my (distasteful) memory of the green polyester pinafores we wore over yellow blouses for our school uniform in the fourth grade. But the Madcap team is doing a good job of replacing that mental image.
John and Jason are currently decorating a new-construction house in our area that Jason calls “a very fresh take” on the influences of 18th-century English country houses designed by Robert Adam. A quick image search of Adam’s interiors look like an uncanny antecedent to the Madcap palette.
They must have English pedigrees, because Jason also pointed to the iconic British department store Fortnum & Mason during a conversation about classic shades of green. Exactly no one fondly recalls the avocado tint of 70s-era appliances, but the greenish-blue Eau de Nil of the Fortnum sign? Still looking fresh and happy more than 300 years later.
I think the Madcap duo has become so popular because their work is about refreshing and reinterpreting color, style and patterns that already exist somewhere deep in our psyche, whether it’s from visiting grandmother’s house as a child, or touring historic homes, or indulging our healthy addiction for shelter magazines over the years.
The new Alexandria location for Calico joins stores in Arlington, Fairfax and Great Falls, so we won’t have to travel far to see their delicious designs!